Thomas Land at Drayton Manor is better than ever!

Rosie and other enginesDrayton Manor in Staffordshire is one of our favourite places to visit in the holidays. My son is a huge fan of Thomas the Tank Engine so the fact that Europe’s only Thomas Land is found there has us going back again and again. This week we were lucky enough to be invited to the press launch of the expansion to Thomas Land. As part of Drayton Manor’s 65th anniversary celebrations a £2.5 million extension to our favourite part of the park has been unveiled, increasing Thomas land by 40% and introducing new rides featuring Flynn the fire engine, Captain the life boat and Toby the tram. My kids had a fabulous tie going on the new rides and watching the performers there to celebrate the opening. My son’s loved firing the water cannon on Captain’s Sea Adventure and both children wanted to fly with Jeremy again and again in his new location right outside the Sodor Airport function rooms and cafe. The fat controller has a brand new statue sheltering under an unbrella from a fountain and there are fairground style games to play too.ThomasLandCollage

In celebration of the 65 years since the park opened there are some great offers available including a family day pass offering a family of four entrance to the park and access to all of its attractions for just £65 when booked seven or more days in advance or if individual tickets are more appropriate by booking seven days or more in advance you can take advantage of the following great discounts; adult (12+) tickets at £20, children (aged 4-11), grandees (60+) and disabled visitors and their carers priced at £15.

The exclusive anniversary offers throughout the 2015 main season and provides a whopping 55% saving, compared to on the gate prices.

Tickets can be prebooked online at http://draytonmanor.co.uk/tickets-and-prices

ThomasWe had such a good time that we even made a cake to celebrate – this Thomas the tank engine cake is really simple to make for a birthday party or jut to please your little Thomas fan. The full recipe and tutorial are available at modernfamilybaking.com

About Drayton Manor

Drayton Manor Theme Park Ltd, opened to the public in 1950 by the Bryan family, is one of the UK’s most popular family attractions with over one million visitors a year. George and Vera Bryan OBE, converted 80 acres of derelict land, which once belonged to Sir Robert Peel Bart; MP & PM to Queen Victoria and his family, into today’s wonderful multi award-winning family attraction, combining thrill rides with a conservation zoo plus catering and conference facilities.

1950-Chair Swing 5Today, Drayton Manor Theme Park, still family owned and run by second and third generation family members, covers 286 acres of beautiful woodland and countryside and features some of the wildest and scariest rides around. Rides include: Roller-Coasters – Shockwave, Ben 10: Ultimate Mission and G-force.  Major rides: Maelstrom, Apocalypse and Storm Force 10, our wettest ride. It is home to the hugely popular Thomas Land™ featuring many named Thomas & Friends™ character rides for the children and adults alike. Thomas Land™ at Drayton Manor is the only one of its kind in Europe.  The park’s 152 seat 4D Cinema and over 50rides and attractions makes for an truly unforgettable day.

A four-star Hotel onsite featuring 150 rooms includes Thomas & Friends™ themed rooms all sleeping four to six guests, family rooms, executive rooms and presidential suites. It also features two well stocked bars, two sublime restaurants, a relaxing lounge, large conference room for functions and exhibitions as well as an idyllic wedding facility for up to 400 guests.

 

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The Co-operative #GoodBake event

me3Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to an event in The co-operative’s food development kitchen at their head office. In as session led by Great British Bake Off finalist Luis Troyano a group of food bloggers got to bake Chocolate, hazelnut and orange tarts topped with a cointreau cream.

The event was part of The Co-operative’s new campaign to get more of us Brits baking. They have recently launched a new and improved range of baking products from ground almonds to chocolate chips. The Co-operative is aiming to be the one stop shop for home bakers. You can find recipes (including one from yours truly) and more information at The Co-operative Food website.

Luis kindly gave us the recipe for the delicious tart we made on the day and so I’m also going to share it with you. It is a really simple recipe using ready made pastry and other easy options.

Luis Troyano’s Chocolate Orange and Praline Tart

This is a quick and easy tart to make. There is no blind baking of the pastry required.

A round shortcrust pastry tart filed with a chocolate orange hazelnut frangipane. Topped with a whipped liqueur cream, candied hazelnuts and sliced oranges.

You will need a 23cm loose bottom tart tin greased and lined with non stick baking parchment.

groupFor the tart filling

250g Ready made short crust pastry

120g Chocolate hazelnut spread (warmed slightly in a microwave) slit into 80g and 40g portions

125g Unsalted butter (softened)

125g Castor sugar

2 Medium eggs (beaten)

1 tablespoon plain flour

Grated zest of 2 oranges

125g ground hazelnuts

50g plain chocolate chips

For the candied hazelnuts

20 Whole hazelnuts

150g Caster sugar

150ml Water

For the topping

350ml Double cream

2 tablespoons icing sugar

2 tablespoons cointreau

1 orange

You can also add candied orange peel as a final touch

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160c fan / 180c non-fan
  • Grease the tin and line with a circle of baking paper.
  • On a separate sheet of baking paper roll out the pastry then roll up the pastry and baking paper then unroll upside down on top of the tin. Peel off the baking paper and push the pastry into the sides of the tin.
  • Remove the excess pastry from the top of the tin and place the tin in a fridge to rest the pastry.
  • Using a mixer cream the  butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the beaten eggs, hazelnuts, plain flour and orange zest until evenly mixed.
  • Fold in 80g of the chocolate hazelnut spread and chocolate chips until just mixed.
  • Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the remaining chocolate hazelnut spread evenly on the base leaving a small gap around the edge.
  • Place the filling into a disposable piping bag and pipe evenly into the tart case before smoothing with a palate knife or the back of a spoon.
  • Place the tart in the lower half of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin then remove and place on a serving plate.
  • To make the candied hazelnuts dissolve the sugar in the water and  bring to a rolling boil
  • Add the hazelnuts and boil for  20 minutes then drain them and separate them on grease proof paper to dry.
  • To make the topping whip the double cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form.
  • Add the liqueur and whip until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a large star nozzel pipe the cream onto the cooled tart then add the hazelnuts and some slices of orange.

goodies2

 

 

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Simple Pastel Cake for Spring

easter bundt 1It’s been a while since I made a large cake, recently I’ve made a lot of cupcakes and biscuits but this week I decided I wanted to make a pretty springtime cake using one of the lovely silicone moulds sent to me by Mein Cupcake for review. You’d be forgiven for thinking they were bundt cake moulds however they are described as gugelhupf moulds. After a visit to wikipedia I can reliably state that gugelhupf is an alternative name for bundt cakes and is used in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Anyway regardless of their name they look lovely and are a great way to make a stunning cake with very little effort.

The important thing when making this cake is to make sure the cake mould is completely greased with butter and then coated in flour before filling with the cake batter. Use greaseproof paper to spread the butter at first but then use clean fingers to make absolutely sure the butter is in all the nooks and crannies including the central pillar. Once the butter is done sprinkle a few spoonfuls of flour in and tilt and tap the mould until everywhere is covered in flour. The bright purple silicone of thee moulds makes it really easy to see any spots you’ve missed.

For neatness I use a piping bag to fill the mould with cake batter but pouring from a jug or spooning works also. Tap the filled mould gently on the worksurface a couple of times to remove any bubbles.

gugelhopf mouldsThe booklet which came with this £15.25  Contoura RBV Birkmann Gugelhupf Silicone Mould has recipes to use with the  mould, alternatively the recipe below is for vanilla cake. The booklet supplied used 5 or 6 eggs in it’s recipes, I found that a 6 egg mix filled the main part of the cake mould however I increased the mix to 8 eggs to include the detail at the base. I really love the end result with simple clean lines and minimal decoration. Mein Cupcake is a german store who are expanding into the uk and have loads of lovely products. In addition to this Contoura mould they have also sent me a Novel mould from the same range which I am looking forward to trying soon.

 

Ingredients:

500g Castor sugar

500g Unsalted butter (softened)

8 Large eggs (beaten)easter bundt collage

4 tea spoons Vanilla essence

500g Self raising flour

50ml (approx) Whole milk

250g Icing sugar

Splash of water

Gel food colourings (blue, yellow, green & pink)

Sprinkles to decorate

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160c fan (180c standard).
  • In a freestanding mixer cream the butter and sugar until well combined. To soften the butter either leave at room temperature for an hour or in a place in a microwave safe bowl and soften in 5 second bursts stirring in between each burst.
  • Add the vanilla essence to the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the egg mix to the buttercream a little at a time while mixing on a slow speed. Add a couple of spoonfuls of flour if necessary to help combine the mixture.
  • Add the remaining flour to the batter while continuing to mix on a slow speed. As soon as the flour is combined turn off the mixer and do the last stage by hand.
  • Slowly add whole milk to the mixture while stirring with a spatula or spoon. Add milk until the mixture easily falls from the spoon / spatula into the bowl. All flours have different moisture contents so you may need slightly more or less than the 50ml stated.
  • Grease the mould and dust with flour as described above.
  • Pipe or spoon the cake batter into the silicone mould and tap the full mould on the work surface to remove any air bubbes.
  • Place the filled mould onto a baking tray and bake for 1hr 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Do not turn out the cake immedieatly, leave to cool enough that the base cake be leveled with a bread knife before the cake is turned out.
  • Turn the cooled and leveled cake out onto a serving plate and decorate with water icing coloured pink, yellow, green and blue, the icing should be thick enough that pulling a spoon through it will leave a trail but runny enough to pipe. You do not need a piping nozzel for this simply place the water icing in a disposable food or piping bag and snip off the corner to make neat lines of icing.
  • Decorate with sprinkles and serve.

easter bundt 3

Link up your recipe of the weekCasa Costello

 

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Easter egg Macaroons with The Co-Operative

Easter egg macronsEaster is just around the corner so when The Co-Operative got in touch and offered me some products from their lovely home baking range I was very happy to start thinking about an Easter themed treat for my family. I recently started making macaroons so I decided to attempt egg shaped ones done in multiple colours. I made a template to draw egg shapes on a sheet of baking paper and then made sure to turn the paper over so that the pencil marks don’t transfer to the macaroons.

Making macaroons is actually a lot simpler than you might think – there are just two stages to mixing them and as long as you are careful with the VERY hot sugar syrup mot too much can go wrong. Key points to remember are:

  • Make sure the mixing bowl is completely cool before stopping whisking the meringue
  • Bang the baking tray on the work surface a few times to smooth out the mixture and remove any large bubbles.
  • Allow a skin to form on top of the macaroons before baking them to give a smooth top (about 30 minutes)
  • Once baked slide the baking paper onto the work-surface to cool rather than removing the macaroons straight away.

Ingredients

For the macaroons:

90g Egg whites (total) split into 50g for Italian meringue and 40g for the almond paste.

110g Castor sugar

30ml water (approx)

125g Ground almonds

125g Icing sugar

Food colouring

For the frosting:

80g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
25ml whole milk
1 and a half tsp vanilla essence

 

Co-op productsMethod

First separate the egg whites into two – 50g  and 40g

  • Place 50g of egg white in a clean mixing bowl – preferably metal and whisk in a stand mixer using a balloon whisk until stiff peaks form and the egg white has roughly doubled in volume. When you are ready to pour in the sugar syrup (next step) to mix the italian meringue keep the mixer on high speed.
  • While the egg white whisks dissolve the 110g of castor sugar in a little water (approx 30ml works for me) in a pan.
    • Heat the sugar syrup on the hob until it reaches 113.5c then remove from the heat and with the stand mixer whisking on high pour the sugar syrup into the whisked egg white. Keep whisking until the outside of the bowl is cool.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds before stirring in the remaining unwhisked egg white to form a paste.
  • Fold the meringue into the almond paste adding food colour as desired – to make the eggs I split my mixture into 3 and added green, pink & yellow.
  • Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray and draw a series of egg shapes on the back using a cardboard template or cookie cutter.
  • Turn the greaseproof paper over to prevent any ink or pencil mark transferring to the macaroons.
  • Place the macaroon mix into piping bags and snip off the ends, pipe onto the tray.
  • Bang the tray down on the work surface several times to remove any large air bubbles then set aside for half an hour to allow a skin to form on top.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170c and after a skin has formed on the macar0ons bake for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and place the sheet of baking paper on your work surface to allow them to cool before peeling them off.

For the frosting:

  •  Cream the butter and icing sugar in a free-standing mixer on a low speed it will initally look powdery before becoming a smooth mixture.
  • Mix the vanilla essence with the milk in a separate glass or jug (I use a re-purposed Tommy Tippee cup as it has handy volumes on the side).
  • With the mixture on a low speed slowly add the vanilla milk.
  • Beat the mixture on a high speed for at least 5 minutes
  • Pipe the frosting between the cooled macaroons.

I got lots of lovely products from the co-operative’s baking range including bright spotty cupcake cases that we will be using to make Easter nest cupcakes, and walnuts which will be going into my husband’s Carrot cake birthday cake in a few weeks.  Below are some other fun ideas to try as an Easter centre piece or just to fill a rainy after noon with your kids.

easter nests

Make easy Easter nest cupcakes with chocolate frosting and minieggs.

Make a giant Easter nest and decorate an Easter egg as a chicken.

Make a giant Easter nest and decorate an Easter egg as a chicken.

 

Link up your recipe of the weekCasa Costello

 

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Alice in wonderland birthday cupcakes

Alice cupcakes 1It was my birthday at the start of this month and although my husband offered to buy me a cake I decided that I’d rather make my own. Last year I made a Giant raspberry and peach cupcake so this year I decided to make a series of smaller cupcakes based on an Alice in Wonderland theme. I did 6 designs with 4 cupcakes each making a total of 24 delicious cupcakes for our tea party.

  1. White roses being painted red – made by painting a stripe of red food colouring down the inside of the piping bag.
  2. Cheshire cats – purple and pink frosting piped from the same bag with fondant eyes, ears, mouth and hair added then outlined in black water icing.
  3. Late white rabbits disappearing down the rabbit hole – frosting grass piped with a grass nozzel with a fondant rabbit bottom, watch and flowers. Details added with pink water icing for the rabbit’s toes and with black food colouring on a cocktail stick to make the details of the clock face.
  4. Mad hatter’s tea party- made by laying an over large circle of fondant over buttercream and shaping into a table cloth then adding fondant teapot, cup, hat and spilt tea.
  5. Eat me labeled cakes – Embossing the fondant with a stencil then brushing on edible lustre powder, cutting a circle to fit the cake and smoothing onto frosting to make a dome shape. Fondant labels cut out freehand and labeled Eat Me with black water icing.
  6. Alice in wonderland pinafore bow – A circle of blue fondant on top f frosting then strips of white fondant shaped into a bow placed on top.

To make the cupcakes I used my Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe. To make the frosting I used my Vanilla Frosting Recipe.

IMG_7170.JPG

 

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Heart shaped macarons

macrons4Macrons (or Macaroons if you prefer) are one of those trendy deserts that I’ve heard of a lot over the last couple of years but have never actually got around to trying – and my trying I don’t just mean baking I mean eating. I could be wrong but I think they started picking up in popularity when the Great British Bake Off chose them as a technical challenge a few years ago. Anyway I’d been meaning to try making them for a while, especially as they use Italian meringue which is something else I’d never tried. Finally, after being asked if I’d made them in January I decided to have a go and dug my ground almonds out of the cupboard where they’d been waiting for the last month or so. The first time I made them I filled them with a pink coloured white chocolate ganache, the second time I chose to use vanilla frosting, both were lovely.

Ingredients

For the macarons:

90g Egg whites (total) split into 50g for Italian meringue and 40g for the almond paste.

110g Castor sugar

30ml water (approx)

125g Ground almonds

125g Icing sugar

Food colouring

For the ganache:

50ml double cream

100g white chocolate

Food colouring

Method

First separate the egg whites into two – 50g  and 40g

  • Place 50g of egg white in a clean mixing bowl – preferably metal and whisk in a stand mixer using a balloon whisk until stiff peaks form and the egg white has roughly doubled in volume. Keep the mixer on high when ready to pour in the sugar syrup to mix the italian meringue.
  • While the egg white whisks dissolve the 110g of castor sugar in a little water (approx 30ml works for me) in a pan.
    • Heat the sugar syrup on the hob until it reaches 113.5c then remove from the heat and with the stand mixer whisking on high pour the sugar syrup into the whisked egg white. Keep whisking until the outside of the bowl is cool.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds before stirring in the remaining unwhisked egg white to form a paste.
  • Fold the meringue into the almond paste adding food colour as desired.
  • Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray and draw a series of hearts on the back using a cardboard template or cookie cutter.
  • Turn the greaseproof paper over to prevent any ink or pencil mark transferring to the macrons.
  • Place the macron mix into a piping bag and snip off the end, pipe the hearts onto the tray.
  • Bang the tray down on the work surface several times to remove any large air bubbles then set aside for half an hour to allow a skin to form on top.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170c and after a skin has formed on the macrons bake for 12 minutes.
  • Remove the macrons from the oven and place the sheet of baking paper on your work surface to allow them to cool before peeling them off.
  • For the ganache add food colouring to the double cream and warm slightly to just above room temperature.
  • Melt the white chocolate and add to the double cream stirring until a smooth ganache forms.
  • Pipe the ganache between the cooled macrons.

 

 

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Hidden heart cupcakes for Valentine’s Day

 

VHidden heart valentine's cupcakesalentine’s day is just around the corner and so I’ve been thinking about home made gifts with a romantic theme. Last week I made heart shaped macrons and these easy hidden heart cupcakes. All you need to make them is vanilla cupcake batter and cake cases, a small heart shaped cutter, some red and pink food colouring, some frosting for the top and some sprinkles. I used a basic vanilla cupcake recipe (below). I made the cupcakes in PME red and pink heart cases and decorated them with strawberry flavored frosting, lip shaped sprinkles and chocolate filigree hearts all of which were kindly provided by the Cake Decorating Store for review.

Hidden heart cupcakes ingredients

125g Unsalted butter (softened)
125g Caster sugar
2 Eggs (beaten)
125g Self raising flour
1 tsp Vanilla essence
Splash of whole milk
Red gel food colour
Pink gel food colour

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Grease and line a small cake tin or baking tray with a raised edge.
  • To soften the butter you could simply leave it on the side for an hour, but I always forget so I place it in a microwavable bowl and heat in 10 second bursts, removing and mixing each time. The aim is to soften the butter a little not to melt it. If the butter does melt a little, use a fork to mix it back together with the rest of the butter.
  • In a freestanding mixer cream the softened butter and sugar until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla essence to the beaten egg then slowly add the mixture to the mixer.
  • Gradually add the flour while mixing on a slow speed.

Valentines cupcake 7

  • Add the whole milk slowly while mixing by hand until the mixture falls easily from a spoon or spatula.
  • Remove approximately 1/4 of the mixture and place in a separate bowl. Add red food colour to this mixture and spread in a thin layer (about 1cm thick) in your per-greased and lined cake tin or baking tray. don’t worry about reaching the edges of the tin it doesn’t matter what shape you end up with.
  • Bake the red coloured sponge in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile add a little pink to the remaining 3/4 of cake batter.
  • Use the small heart cutter to cut out hearts from the cooled red cake then stand these up in the cake cases. The pink batter in the bottom will support them.
  • Fill around the hearts with the remaining pink cake batter.
  • Bake for approx 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Decorate by swirling the strawberry frosting from a piping bag or spreading with the back of a spoon / pallet knife. Add sprinkles and hearts for a final romantic touch.

Valentines cupcake 3 Valentines cupcake 5

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Celebration Cakes and Bakes January ’15

wreath bread 2Happy new year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday and had chance to do lots of fun festive baking with your families. If you made cookies for Santa, a cake for Christmas day or a showstopping pavlova why not link up below and have a look at some of the other festive entries. Also if you’re baking for a birthday or special occasion this month I’d love to see what you come up with. We were busy over the holidays making everything from gingerbread cookies for Santa to a Christmas wreath cake and a Frozen themed snowflake cake. I also made a Cranberry bread wreath with baked Camembert which was delicious.
If you have a cake or bake to link up please join in the linky below. The rules are simple:

You must have made the bake yourself – no buying from the local cake shop.

It must be a post about making the bake – it doesn’t have to be a full on recipe but it does need to be in the spirit of the thing.

It doesn’t need to be a new post it could be one from last year, but if it’s a seasonal celebration bake it should be appropriate – so no Easter cakes at Christmas, save them for springtime.

Posts must include the Celebration Cakes & Bakes badge (grab the code below)

Please comment on a few of the other entries – remember linkys only work if you spread the linky love!

That’s it everything else is optional.

If you follow me on twitter @jaisee_mummy and tweet me with the hashtag #CelebrationCakesAndBakes I will retweet any entries that I see.

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Frozen Snowflake and Olaf Cake

Frozen christmas cake 3My daughter loves Frozen and had an entirely Frozen themed birthday party in the summer so I decided that our Christmas cake this year should be Frozen themed as well. I bought a “cake lace” mat with a snowflake design back in June but hadn’t actually used it for the Ice Palace cake so i thought this would be a good opportunity. This cake was a vanilla sponge with hidden blue snowflakes inside and covered in blue fondant. Cake lace snowflakes cover the fondant and Olaf sits beside on the board. His arms and hair are made of tempered chocolate.  The lettering around the cake drum reads “Let it snow” and is decorated with swirls of sugar pearls. Beneath the main cFrozen christmas cupcakes 2ake are Vanilla Cupcakes with blue and purple two toned swirled vanilla frosting.

To make the blue snowflakes I coloured a batch of vanilla cake batter (basically a large batch of my Vanilla Cupcake recipe)blue and baked it in two shallow rectangular baking trays. Once baked and cooled I used a snowflake cutter to cut out the snowflakes.

I mixed enough vanilla cake batter to make a large 9 inch cake. I placed a thin layer of the batter in the base of my greased and lined 9 inch tin then arranged the snowflakes in a circle around inside of the tin. I then filled the remainder of the tin with the cake batter to cover the snowflakes.

 

frozen christmas cake insideFrozen christmas cake 2

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Simple Christmas Wreath Cake

Wreath cake 5Here is a simple and effective design for a Christmas cake, whether for a traditional fruit cake or, as in this case, a rich chocolate cake. The design is a holly wreath with hand rolled berries, a hand made red fondant bow and water icing dots around the edge in a diamond / diagonal pattern. The lettering in the middle is red water icing done with a writing nozzle. The only cutter I needed for this was a holly leaf (actually it was a cluster of holly leaves and I separated the leaves with a small knife. The chocolate cake is crumb coated and filled with vanilla frosting then covered in ready to roll white fondant.

For the chocolate cake

400g Plain flour
250g Golden castor sugar
100g Light muscavado sugar
50g Cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
half tsp salt
3 eggs (beaten)
150ml tub of sour cream
3 tsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter (melted)
125ml corn oil
300ml cold water

  • Preheat the oven to 180c.
  • Butter two 8in cake tins and line them with greaseproof paper (this is my least favourite part of baking but so worth it).
  • Place all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (sugars, flour, baking powder, bicarb, cocoa, salt) and mix (by hand) until they are well combined.
  • Melt the butter in a microwave in 10 second bursts and stir to melt completely, avoid overheating it.
  • In a large jug whisk the melted butter with the oil and then add the cold water, continue to whisk, then add to the dry ingredients in the free-standing mixer while mixing at a slow speed.
  • Leave to mix until smooth and in a separate jug or bowl mix the beaten eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream.
  • Add the cream mixture to the mixing bowl and continue to mix slowly until smooth.
  • Split the mixture between the two tins and bake for about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool the cakes on wire racks before icing.

For the Vanilla frosting

160g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
50ml whole milk
3 tsp vanilla essence

  • Cream the butter and icing sugar in a free-standing mixer on a low speed it will look powdery first before becoming a smooth mixture.
  • Mix the vanilla essence with the milk in a separate glass or jug (I use a re-purposed Tommy Tippee cup as it has handy volumes on the side).
  • With the mixer on a low speed slowly add the vanilla milk.
  • Beat the mixture on a high speed for at least 5 minutes

For the decoration

1 box of ready to roll white fondant icing (enough to cover an 8 inch cake plus extra to colour for the leaves and ribbon).

Non stick mat or greaseproof paper

Green and red food colouring paste

6 inch circle (a tin lid / cutter, loose cake tin base) to mark the top of the cake as a guide for the wreath.

Edible glue (or water)

White water icing thick enough to pipe

Red water icing thick enough to pipe (mde by adding red colouring paste to the wite water icing).

2 x Piping bags- or one and wash it in between the red and white icing.

2x writing nozzles – or one and wash it in between the red and white icing.

Ribbon for the bottom of the cake.

  • Wreath cake 4Fill the cake with the vanilla buttercream then crumb coat the top and sides.
  • Roll out the fondant on a non stick mat (or grease proof paper) until it is large enough to cover an 8 inch cake including the sides.
  • Roll the mat or paper up with the fondant on and flip upside down and unroll onto the cake before carefully peeling off the non stick mat.
  • Gently smooth the fondant around the top and sides and cut off the excess from the bottom with a pizza wheel or sharp knife. Discard any fondant that has cake crumbs on but keep the remainder to make the decorations.
  • Colour some of the remaining fondant green by kneading through the gel colour then roll out the fondant and cut out holly leaves.
  • Use the 6 inch circle (I use the top of my piping nozzle tin) to lightly mark a circle on top of the cake then attach the holly leaves around this circle using either edible glue or water. Be careful if using water as using too much can make the top of the cake sticky and too wet.
  • To make the wreath pattern I made a v shape with two leaves on either side of the marked line all the way around the circle, then added extra leaves at points that the whit icing showed through.
  • Colour the remaining fondant red by kneading through the gel colour then roll out the fondant and using a straight edge cut a long strip to make the ribbon.
    • Cut your long strip of red fondant into 4 equal pieces.
    • Take piece one, fold both ends into the middle to make the loops of the bow and use a spoon handle or similar to separate the top of the loops from the bottom a little to make the loops more bow-like.
    • Take pieces two and three and cut off one end of each at an angle like the end of a ribbon – attach the other ends to the bottom of piece one to make the tails of the bow. Bend the tails slightly to give movement. Use edible glue or water to join the pieces together.
    • Cut a small strip from piece four and use this to make the centre of the bow using edible glue or water to attach it.
    • Place the bow on the wreath. This is now the bottom of the wreath.
    • Use the remainder of piece four and any other left over red fondant to make holly berries. Attach them around the wreath in groups of 1, 2 or 3.
  • Wreath cake 3Mix white water icing adding a teaspoon of water at a time until the icing will hold it’s shape when piped with a writing nozzle.
    • Leaving space for your ribbon at the bottom pipe 4 rows of dots around the side of the cake.
    • Pipe the top two rows together in a zig zag pattern.
    • Pipe the third row between the dots of the second row and below the dots from the 1st row so that a diamond pattern begins to appear.
    • Pipe the fourth row between the dots of the third row and below the dots of the second row to complete the diamond pattern.
  • Either mix up a batch or red water icing that will hold it’s shape when piped with a writing nozzle or colour any remaining white water icing red and replace in a clean piping bag.
    • use a straight edge to very faintly mark two lines for the letters to follow above the bow.
    • Pipe Christmas Wishes in the middle of the cake
  • Attach the ribbon around the bottom of the cake – if you use ins be sure to remove them before serving.

 

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